You may have seen a recent article in the Age about someone attending a stretch therapist with amazing results. Stretch therapy is a form of manual therapy which focuses on muscles and fascia to evoke a change in the resting length. They claim to use a combination of static stretching (when a therapist moves a part of your body to a barrier and holds it for a designated period of time) and PNF stretching (when a therapist moves to the barrier, and then uses a active co-contraction from you to release and take the stretch further).
Static stretching and PNF stretching have been used in the manual therapy field by Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and other health practitioners for years with great results. Dynamic stretching is often also used in the sporting industry as part of a warm up. The goal of a stretch, regardless of the type, aims to increase the muscle length, decrease tension, increase flexibility around the joints and tissues, desensitize the nervous system and reduce pain. Generally, static stretching should be held for approximately 30 seconds to get enough change in the muscular length to evoke a lengthening effect, but can be held for longer periods if comfortable. A good guide of stretch intensity is to stick to a 4-5/10 on a pain scale only. Stretching should never be painful, and should always be easily tolerated. If it is painful while completing the stretch, always stop and reset, just in case you were potentially in the wrong position or posture. If it is still painful, don’t pull or lean as intensely. If still sore then stop immediately and speak to your Osteopath at your next appointment to discuss. If the stretch feels amazing and you have completed the 30 second hold, it is absolutely fine to continue alternating sides and complete 3-5 stretches on each area to get the most out of the movement.
Patients of stretch therapy appear to finish the treatment feeling improved with more mobility, less pain and improved balance and posture. The good thing is that you can get very similar results by completing a stretching series at home! It is always a good idea to speak to your Osteopath if you have a particular injury or concern to make sure you are getting the most benefit from the stretch that you can. Here below we have two different links to our favourite stretches for backs and for desk workers!
Favourite Back stretches:
Stretches for a desk worker: